Secretary of Transportation H.B. Limehouse Jr. has released the results from the first year of operations of the new Safety Improvement Team (SIT) that patrolled work zones and “high crash corridors” in South Carolina.
The Safety Improvement Team is made up of 24 state troopers who are trained and equipped to enforce the speed limits in SCDOT work zones on the state’s highways. These troopers have no other responsibilities aside from work zone enforcement, and patrolling sections of highways where crash rates are high when construction in work zones is complete.
The Safety Improvement Team began its operations on June 1, 2006. The first year reporting period closed on May 30, 2007, and the results showed a significant drop in work zone crashes, injuries and fatalities compared to the previous year:
• Work zone crashes decreased by 51 percent from 1,366 to 666.
• Work zone injuries dropped 53 percent from 615 to 289.
• Work zone fatalities reduced by 72 percent from 18 to 5.
In addition, members of the Safety Improvement Team issued 46,986 citations in this one-year period for violations such as speeding, DUI and failure to wear seatbelts.
The funding for this program is provided by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The Safety Improvement Team finished its first year under budget by a little more than $826,000.
Limehouse said, “In the past year, this program has proven itself to be an effective one that can save lives, because these troopers can focus entirely on work zone enforcement. In the past, we paid time-and-a-half wages to off-duty officers to patrol specific projects. Thanks to our partners at SCDPS and FHWA, we’re now spending less, and more work zones are being patrolled, making them safer places for motorists and the people who work there.”
These 24 specially-trained troopers are grouped into units of six troopers. Each unit covers one of four regions in the state.